A lot of people don’t like dualism and indeed, what’s to like? It always seems so cloojy! Recently it seems the old doctrine of pan-psychism has been dusted off in analytic philosophy as an alternative. It asks the question: Could everything be conscious at a very low level?

Maybe! But if everything is thinking, what is it thinking?

Is a down quark thinking “Wow! I’m a down quark! How about that!”. How could it? Does it have enough moving parts to think it is an I? Only very very smart physicists even understand what quarks are and their brains have literally kabadajillions of quarks. Why do they bother having such big brains if a single quark can think stuff about quarks?

Does a chlorine ion think “I would love to have another electron right now and complete my shell!” Why? Why isn’t it happy being a chlorine ion? Why does it want to complete its shell?

Does an electron think “I wish somebody would come along and measure me so I could have a definite location?” Why isn’t it okay not having a definite location? But if it is okay not having a definite location, is it okay not having a definite thought?

What about time? Is it thinking “I do enjoy keeping track of where everything is in the temporal structure of the universe?” Does it need it’s own time in order to think that thought, and does that own time have thoughts?

Are thoughts conscious? Obviously if I am having a thought about chicken I am conscious — of chicken! –, but what about the thought itself?   Is it thinking “I’m glad I’m helping Eric have a mental connection with chicken?” Is the gladness of the thought thinking “I’m glad this thought is glad?”

Is the universe thinking, the single deep thought “Universe. Universe. Universe.”?

Maybe I’m not a pan-psychist!


7 thoughts on “PAN-PSYCHISM

  1. shanestranahan says:

    the same questions apply to bacteria, or so’s as it seems! though their thoughts might not be quite like your Platonic’s…

    1) maybe the space in between the things is the awareness, but only interpretable to us in terms of its capacity to be focused upon and through the things. larger-order things like molecules or living things would further attune the fundamental substrate of voidal awareness.
    2) the nature of objects is to contain awareness in sensory and expressive systems, the slightness of which fail to catch our eye. we have, ourselves, a sensory system that a dumb or at least slightly benighted Goliath could never know. maybe we are a Goliath to these processes, thinking in a language so alien that we only can choose to interpret it as stochastic. like Lem’s Solaris.

  2. I think the panpsychics may be less into mental events as cognition and more into them as that which can experience qualia. The threshold for, say, pain, may be a lot lower — or of a slightly different kind? — than that for thinking something like “I’m a goldfish,” or “I’d like to be measured.” Can’t say I’m much of a panpsychic myself, though.

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